Tutoring - help is at hand

 

Nothing tears at the heart -strings more than seeing your child struggle at school.  Nothing makes parents feel more frustrated than being powerless to help.

Nothing succeeds like success - that’s where tutoring steps in.

Today’s children have been born into a competitive world. Selective schools have entry-level testing. Public schools have government benchmark assessments that compare your child to the rest of the state or nation. All of this before your child even hits the job market, which will demand that they are well qualified and experienced before they even make it to interview.

It is hard to recall a time when self- esteem, self-belief and confidence are more important. Yet children in increasing numbers are feeling the pinch in the cornerstones of education: literacy and numeracy.

A curriculum that covered only the 3 R’s; reading, writing and arithmetic and relied heavily on wrote learning, repetitive drills and standardized testing, is a distant memory to those who have been in education several decades. In its place is a crowded curriculum endeavouring to educate the holistic child: one who is proficient in the basics, but also computer literate, emotionally well balanced, artistically challenged and environmentally aware.

The hours in a school day have remained the same. Simple addition shows that something must be getting the thinner edge of the wedge. While debate amongst educators and parents on the benefits of a diversified curriculum continues, the fact remains that increasing numbers of children are struggling with the basics of reading and mathematics giving rise to parents seeking help outside the school arena to stem the tide of falling self esteem and low self confidence.

Lack of self-belief is a negative cycle that once begun is hard to arrest. Combine it with competitive peers and you can end up with a recipe for self-doubt, disinterest in learning and ultimately behaviour problems as children start to rail against a system that makes them feel inferior.

“A minute’s success pays the failure of a year.” Robert Browning

 

The benefits of tutoring are twofold.

The child gets to ask questions in a private environment and have their immediate needs met. Few children will put up their hands and ask for assistance in front of their peers. It is damaging to their self-esteem to admit confusion or incompetence in such an open arena. Tutoring programs allow that pressure to dissolve and actually nurture and encourage children to discuss areas of difficulty. Programs are usually designed to give small chunks of information with immediate rewards of success, which immediately boost self-esteem. Once confidence is restored, many children find they can go on to function more effectively in class.

Parents benefit from tutoring too.

They feel a sense of relief that they are facilitating assistance to their child in an arena in which they often feel inadequate. It’s a long time between drinks when it comes to doing homework, and understandably many parents find it a source of internal frustration when children come to them for help only to walk away empty handed.

Tutoring today comes in a variety of packages.

One to one/small group tutoring

Carried out usually by experienced or retired teachers, this option offers individual instruction. The tutor can present the information in a variety of ways to suit the student’s learning style and provide immediate and consistent praise and encouragement. Having a private tutor enables the student to ask questions, go over difficult concepts in privacy and get through considerable amounts of work in a shorter timeframe. When personally tutoring children I can testify to the fact that we covered more reading in one hour than most students would do in a full week in the classroom. Even the most diligent teacher cannot hear one child read for an hour per week, every week at their level of instruction in a classroom situation. It is just not possible. One to one tutoring tailors the learning to meet a student’s individual needs. The price can range from $40 - $60 per hour depending on the age of the student and the qualifications and experience of the tutor.

Software packages/Online learning

Computer- based packages; CD programs and online learning, are making major inroads in the field of tutoring. They are closely aligned to current curriculums, have been written and tested by educators and are visually attractive to the students. Basic computer skills will get you up and running, hence neither parent nor student needs to be an IT professional to access the learning. Inherent in the design of these programs is the ability to tap into a particular concept that is causing confusion. This is particularly helpful in maths. Many programs contain graded examples allowing students to commence at a level they are comfortable with and progress from there. Enjoyable activities maximize student interaction, which heightens and holds interest - vital for success.
On line learning programs recognize the power that parents have as educators. Being internet based their global availability makes for easy access at times convenient to both student and parent. Material can be updated regularly, which means students keep abreast of changing curriculums. They often offer free materials for download and are marketed to be affordable to a wide socio-economic demographic. With siblings coming up the ranks, they promise to be a well-utilized family resource.

One thing is undeniable. A struggling student may initially be having difficulty with one strand of the curriculum, but if left unattended, the same student may develop emotional and social issues if negative experiences continue over an extended period.

To teach is to touch a life. To tutor is to change one.

“Always remember that striving and struggle precede success, even in the dictionary.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

Warning signs that your child may be struggling:

1. Change in attitude.

A child who exhibits a noticeable change in attitude towards schoolwork is often sending you a signal about their level of achievement. If they begin to noticeably play down the importance of schoolwork/homework or seem disinterested in learning in general, there may be an underlying cause.

2. Avoidance.

Children who are feeling inadequate in a certain subject area will avoid it like the plague. If requests for your child to read to you or do maths homework with you are met with a barrage of excuses, look a little closer and see if it is a smokescreen for inherent difficulties.

3. Behaviour problems.

Internal frustration is often demonstrated by anti-social behaviour both at school and at home. Changes in behaviour are often indicative of deeper learning problems and are worthy of investigation.
 
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